Assessment of nutrition education among pediatric gastroenterologists: a survey of NASPGHAN members

Henry C Lin, Doron Kahana, Miriam B Vos, Dennis Black, Zack Port, Robert Shulman, Ann Scheimann, Maria R Mascarenhas
Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 2013, 56 (2): 137-44

BACKGROUND AND AIM: Pediatric gastroenterology is the only pediatric subspecialty with nutrition as part of its official curriculum and objective; however, pediatric gastroenterology fellows believe that their baseline knowledge in nutrition is suboptimal. The purpose of the present study was to assess the perceived effectiveness of nutrition training among pediatric gastroenterologists, identify areas of need for additional education, and determine the perceived role of the gastroenterologist in obesity management.

METHODS: A survey was sent to members and fellows of the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition to assess general nutrition education as well as obesity management and educational needs.

RESULTS: A total of 272 responses were received, for an overall response rate of 15.2% (272/1784). Most responders reported having average or above-average knowledge base in all nutritional topics. There was strong interest in additional resources and a continuing medical education (CME) module on several nutrition topics including nutritional requirements in specific gastrointestinal (GI) disease, failure to thrive/growth failure, and parenteral nutrition support, with the format of CME dependent on the topic. There was also a strong interest in additional CME on the management of pediatric obesity (67%), as most responders believed that the management of obesity in children requires subspecialty care. The perceived role of the pediatric gastroenterologist was, however, one of support to treat the GI and hepatic comorbidities of obesity rather than serve as the main provider of comprehensive obesity care.

CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric gastroenterologists identified gaps in their nutrition knowledge base that may be attributed to the present nutrition education training during fellowship. Multiple topics were identified for additional nutrition education, including obesity management. The nutrition management challenges of today necessitate improved baseline nutrition knowledge and this focus on nutrition should begin at the fellowship level.

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